UBC Day 05: The Art of Procrastination

Earlier this year, I read an article in Psychology Today called Procrastination: Oops, Where Did the Day Go? and thought it would make a great blog post. The article highlighted our proclivity to put things off, why we do it and how we can overcome this behavior.

In PR, there is no time to procrastinate. When getting a message out, time is of the essence. I strive to keep ahead of things, floating many balls in the air at any given time. I do this daily – and until now hadn’t given it much thought. Yet when it comes to getting my personal sh*t together, I’m as guilty as the next person when it comes putting things off; simple silly things such as sending an email, booking an appointment or getting my homework done. (Did I mention that I’m doing a Degree in my ‘spare’ time?)

Doing homework is a huge area of procrastination for me. Most of the courses I take are online or self study – meaning that as long as I have everything done and handed in at the end of the course, I’m good. I start with the best of intentions, telling myself that this time I will get a head start and do the course work consistently over the allotted six months. I praise myself for being so proactive in my planning.

Then here’s what really happens: I f**k around for three or four months, telling myself that I have plenty of time. Then hustle during the last few to get it done. What this tells me is that I can actually do the work in half the allotted time, but rather than starting with a bang and finishing early, I leave it to the last minute.

If there is one thing that I’ve learned about myself it’s that I work better under a deadline. The tighter the deadline, the more I produce. Ever need something to get done? Give it to a person who is busy. Busy people get more done. PR pros are busy people. Information is constantly changing and it’s our job to be ‘in the know’. There’s a great quote by Will Rogers that goes “Even if you are on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.” But back to me procrastinating on my homework.

In the article Procrastination: Oops, Where Did the Day Go? the author suggests that we procrastinate for three main reasons:

  1. We put off things we don’t like to do or that upset us in some way.
  2. Because our intentions are anemic—vague and weak.
  3. We’re easily distracted, and some of us are highly impulsive.

Hmmm. Let’s see.

  1. I want the Degree, but I don’t like doing the homework.
  2. If I’m honest about it, my attempts to “get a jump start” are pretty weak.
  3. I have a huge case of A-DOS: Attention Deficient Ohhhhh Shiny!

To overcome procrastination, the article suggests that one of the “simplest and most effective solutions is to just get started—anywhere on a task.”  Okay, okay, I get it. Start small, but just get started. And I’m gonna do just that… tomorrow.

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